The Custard Cream Trail, Part 2

It’s happened again.  A while ago at that. But, it’s taken me this long to gather my thoughts.

I was all set to enjoy another lazy day loafing about my field when before I knew it I was in the sweat box on wheels with Aunty Tills and any notion of my all day grass buffet fading into the distance. Literally.

Tills who was very calm, and considerably less sweaty, said I didn’t need to get my fetlocks in a twist as we were probably just going on another Custard Cream Trail.   

I did worry though.  And my fetlocks were in a twist.  And I was very sweaty. 

Tills came to my rescue as always, reminding me why our senseless wandering for miles and days on end was called the Custard Cream Trails.

Aunty Tills is always right

Well, we climbed a mountain, traversed a swamp, got caught in a monsoon and had to contend with a sub-species of horse called ‘Competition’.  And that was only the first day. 

Mountain climbing
Swamp traversing
Monsooning

You’d have thought our resilience and fortitude in the face of these trials would have been acknowledged with a few Custard Creams. No, not a one.  

Verbal praise is all well and good but I’d rather have a Custard Cream

At the end of the day, however, we were given a field of knee-high grass the likes of which I have never known.  I was in grassy munchy heaven and could have stayed forever, but it belonged to the scary ‘Competition’ horses, so we had to give it back.  

Although the second day presented less challenges, the Custard Cream drought endured. I also had to think on the hoof when Kat became a bit vague in her instructions to me. It was shortly after we’d met two of Sara’s human herd members who watered her and Kat with something called G&T. I’m not sure if the two were connected or not. 

The G&T watering hole

At the beginning of the third day we went through a very human landscape with nothing green or soft. Just hard surfaces and endless small sweat boxes on wheels whizzing past us.  

At one point Tills stood bold as grass in front of a strange tree with a long thin black trunk and a red light at the top, while sweat boxes of all shapes and sizes (even without the box and just two wheels!!)  whizzed and whirled around us.  Aunty Tills is fearless indeed!  

Finally, much to my relief, we were out of the human landscape and back into the real world.  

And then it happened!

During our grassy munchies break Tills and I heard it.  Rustle, rustle… We knew straight away.  Sara, the Custard Cream bearer, didn’t stand a chance.  After being deprived for two days we threw forelocks to the wind and mobbed her. 

Mobbing the Custard Cream bearer

Topped up with our favourite treat that makes this toil worthwhile, we headed off to our next overnight field through a big wild landscape of hills and moors and valleys and streams.

Senseless wandering in the big wild places
Being roused the next morning
Trying to wake up

The fourth day was more big wild places, Custard Creams a plenty and a couple of strange incidents.

Firstly, Kat played an absurd game of asking everyone to follow her up a very narrow steep track and then seeing if we could all turn round at the narrowest point. This proved very easy for humans, relatively easy for Tills (she has a short wheel base) and very hard for the more stout member of the crew. Me. 

Kat then got injured with something called blister where the skin had shed from her foot.  Horse code dictates that we must remain stoical in the face of pain so that predators won’t see us as weak easy pickings.  

Kat definitely needs to gen-up on her horse code! There can’t have been a single living thing within 5 miles that didn’t know of her discomfort.

Surely this kind of reckless behaviour now gives me the right to apply for another human?

The wild places
Scouting for lions
Aunty Tills and her Sara human
At the top of the wild places

After another long day, Tills suddenly picked up pace, which could mean only one thing.  We were going home!  And she was right.  Aunty Tills is always right. 

There we were, back at the beginning with the sweat box on wheels and it’s human Nigel (who is as perplexed as we are about this senseless wandering) waiting to take us home.

The humans in their sweat box following us

What did I learn from my second Custard Cream Trail?

Firstly, Kat would definitely make a rubbish horse. Secondly, in the event of a Custard Cream ‘no show’ mobbing is acceptable. And, thirdly, I think I might be all grown up now.

GMFN

Fx

 

Lone Surveillance

The amount of lone surveillance I have been subjected to recently is simply shocking.

Aunty Tills has not been with us on our training sessions as Sara, her human, has been too busy looking after an older member of her human herd. A lucky break indeed for Tills. I, on the other hand, am burdened with lone predator surveillance duties on my training sessions with Kat.

Single hoofedly I have to cover: the front and the rear, left and right, above and beneath. All the time. This can make progress slow, straight lines impossible and Kat exasperated, which I really couldn’t give a hairy fetlock about.

Adequate left and right surveillance needs a full head turn; full body if something requires extra scrutiny. The front and rear need constant sight and sound monitoring and my feet have to always be checking for snakes or other such under-hoof threats.

You can see the level of lone surveillance required here!

Even with this painstaking and exhausting level of lone surveillance I was still chased by a wild boar yesterday. Kat said it was only a pig. ONLY A PIG!!!! In the holy name of Pegasus I really need to get myself a new human.

Once I realise we’re on our way home I usually ditch my surveillance for haste. I have an all consuming motivation to get back home so I can share surveillance with my own species as opposed to an inept human who thinks a wild boar doesn’t warrant full flight mode from a standing start.

Kat insists she understands my essential surveillance work and homeward haste, despite the undertones of exasperation. However, the extra weight bouncing around on my back when I was running from the wild boar (ONLY A PIG!!! REALLY???) was no help whatsoever. She’s lucky I didn’t try and remove it. I would have been perfectly within my rights to do so.

Come back soon Tilly.

GMFN

Fx

Kat, Asthma and Me

Apparently I am now officially an asthmatic equine – or a very hairy trail riding cob who has difficulty breathing sometimes.

Given this diagnosis you’d have thought a life more befitting to my condition would be proposed instead of this trial riding toil nonsense. Chilling my hooves out in the field for the rest of my hairy life springs to mind.

But no, quite the opposite. Kat says I now need to be kept fitter than ever and is significantly ramping up the trail riding training sessions. All for my own good – allegedly.

My diagnosis happened when the person called Vet visited. It started off badly when she thought I was a ‘him’ and said I was fat. Before I had chance to contest this, I felt the sharp stab in my neck followed by the woozy helplessness.

From past experience I know all manor of defilements are carried out against me when I’m in the woozy helplessness and I can’t lift one hairy fetlock to stop it. On this occasion Vet had a long, thin snake like thing which crawled through my nose, down my airway and all the way into my lungs.

As if this wasn’t bad enough it then started squirting liquid into them! In the name of Pegasus and all that’s green this was one defilement too far – so I dug deep beyond the wooze veil and promptly expelled the long thin, liquid squirting invader.

Big mistake.

Just as I was about let the wooze take me again, another sharp neck stab and I was rendered unconscious on four legs – with the snake, once again, nostril bound. It was a traumatic experience I can tell you – and one that confirmed I am too fleshy on my inside as well as my outside…

So, I now have to contend with all manor of torments to try and make me less fleshy on my inside so I can breath better.

Torment 1 – I have to wear this preposterous covering over my nose – all the time!

Torment 2 – I have to breath in and out of this absurd device – every day!

Torment 3 – I have sticky smelly gloop rubbed around my nostril – every day!

Of course, the only way I even entertain participating in these torments is with a carefully chosen, richly varied and boundless supply of treats.

I do also have all my fetlocks crossed that the pay-off from these absurdities is I’ll never have to encounter the ill-mannered, nostril invading, lung sluicing Vet person and her pernicious snake ever again!

GMFN

Fx

 

The Human Bum Scratchers

I have found a reason for humans – it appears they make excellent bum scratchers. Who knew?

It’s written in herd ethics that you just don’t ask another horse to start scratching and grooming your tush with their teeth, not even your pair-bonded partner.

That leaves devices such as fence posts, gates or trees at our disposal, which are adequate enough but only for top exposed layers. The nether sections – and the ones in most need of scratching and a general good tidy up – remain unattended to.

Plus, no teeth or inert scratching device could ever reach beyond my voluminous tail to give those nether zones the hearty scratching attention they require.

One day I decided I had earned the right to politely ask Kat if she could assist by reversing into her and bum bumping her until she obliged. I do let Kat passenger me endlessly – to the point where I have to wonder if she is actually losing the use of her human legs – so I thought this was fair game.

To my delight she confirmed that humans were prepared to stoop to lower places than horses – literally – and dived right in there. Top layer, nether layer, the lot got some very pleasing scratching action from human fingers with those tiny sharp hooves on the ends.

Horse alive, was it good.

Since then I’ve practised my ‘reverse bump’ on several other humans who visit my field. Jazz, the young one with yellow hair, who is part of Tilly’s human herd, provides a particularly good scratch and never fails to oblige.

I did try the ‘reverse bump’ on her tall human sire but I think the close proximity of my tooshie was too overwhelming for him and he moved hastily away to admire it from a distance.

I hope he paid good attention to Jazz’s technique as I will be asking him again.

However, it is Kat who I expect the most attention from as it is she who expects to endlessly passenger me as her human legs are failing her. To be fair she is generally very co-operative, although I have found pursuing her in reverse around the field is an effective tactic, along with pinning her to the gate with my sizeable rear if she ever tries to leave without indulging me.

Kat fulfilling her purpose

I realise it wouldn’t be fair to keep this ingenuity to myself so I am trying to teach my herd mates the various ‘reverse bump’ techniques, including ‘the reverse pursuit’ and ‘the gate pin’.

It could really catch on – I could be famous! In years from now they will call me ‘Frankie, the hairy trail riding cob who found a useful purpose for humans’.

GMFN

Fx

The Christmas Splatter Dash

So apparently we’re coming to the end of a period of time humans called Year. But, before this, there are all kinds of nonsense and shenanigans to be had with an event called Christmas.

I’m not sure this Christmas malarky is going to be good for me though. According to Tills, humans have far too much spare time during Christmas and invariably want to spend it bothering their horses. They also expect us to carry them after they have gorged on too much food for seven solid days. The lack of consideration is simply astonishing.

I think some humans also ‘check-in’ with their human god a bit more during Christmas. We’re in contact with our lord Pegasus pretty regularly, usually asking if humans can try harder to meet our basic needs of endless quality forage, wide open spaces and to not break our herd bonds.

He helps Tills and myself pretty well with this but I can’t seem to get his support on changing Kat’s preference for arduous day long trail riding sessions to short foraging ambles.

Because the human loo roll crisis is still happening, I don’t think the Christmas shenanigans will reach their usual levels this time. However, Tills and I did have to participate in some nonsense on our training session today.

Before we left we were adorned with some bright sparkly itchy stuff called tinsel and our humans wrapped themselves in some as well. Here is Tilly showing off her tinsel bling before we left.

Tinsel Bling

So far this Winter we’ve had trough loads of rain and the tracks we go running on are very muddy. Perfect conditions for the splatter dash game!! Which is pretty much as it sounds. We dash and splatter – our humans.

I got good and proper up Till’s bum before we set off running and she sent a wonderful wallop of splatter onto Kat’s face. I cleverly made sure my hoof boots got sucked off in the mud so we’d have to go back to the beginning of the run to find them, meaning we’d have to do the splatter dash again!! This time we agreed I’d go in front and see if we could improve the splatter count with my dinner plate feet – and we did!!

Much to our surprise however, Sara was very happy with her new pebble-dashed look and decided she would keep it on for the whole day.

Splattered

From that point on our humans just laughed the whole way home and we gave up trying to foil them – see what I mean about the Christmas nonsense.

Enjoying a respite from the nonsense with some apples we found

GMFN and a happy human Christmas

F x

PS, apparently Kat hasn’t been able to share my thoughts lately because she’s been doing a human thing called studying where she’s learning about horse behaviour. I hope she realises her real learning will continue from her one true teacher long after she’s finished this so called human endeavour.

The Custard Cream Trail

I’ve been on tour with Aunty Tills!  Three days away and up to our forelocks in all kinds of escapades. 

It started badly.  We were forced unceremoniously onto the sweat box on wheels and had to stay in it for a long sweaty time while we were transported to the beginning of the Custard Cream Trail – a place called Rushop Hall.   On the plus side, once we arrived, we did have a field of grassy munchies all to ourselves. 

Our field at the beginning of the Custard Cream Trail

Tills seemed quite happy about this and quickly got down to the business of filling her fetlocks.  I tried to catch on to her relaxed vibe, but for some reason I did find it hard to blink for a good while.

The next day our humans, Kat and Sara, took us out on a training session.   In the name of all the saints over the bridge I can’t tell you how hard this was.  We went up, down, up down, up down and then for the final down, our humans – for some absurd reason – decided we needed to go down a stone staircase.   My feet are not the daintiest – Kat calls them dinner plates – so I did find this a bit daunting.    

At the bottom of the staircase there was a small gate we had to squeeze through.  Tills went through no problem, but our humans spent a while debating if I would fit.  Bit rude.

Up
More up
Top of the up
Down – the wrong way

Our efforts of the day were rewarded by Sara demonstrating a new hopping technique of mounting Tills on the move.   She almost hopped all the way around the car park – really impressive. 

On the way back to our field at Rushop I did call out over the valley beneath us, just to see if Jack could hear me.  I don’t think he did though.  On the plus side, I was so tired when we got back, I was relaxed enough to blink again.    

The next day we started properly on the Custard Cream Trail and headed south – towards home!!   Today was the longest day of my entire 6 years as an extremely hairy cob.   We covered 20 miles over 9 hours (I know, there must be rules against this kind of exploitation).  

Tills and I did lose our fear of water troughs though and slurped freely from them whenever we could find one. 

Happy Slurping

I also found out why it was called the Custard Cream Trail.     

Sara had packed enough of these human Custard Cream treats for 3 weeks instead of 3 days – no wonder our saddle bags had been weighed down!!    It was nothing less than our duty to try and lighten the load. 

Custard Cream anyone?
Sara and I working together to lighten the load

After this very long second day, brightened by the Custard Cream discovery, we finally arrived at the next overnight stop on the trail.   We were weary and hungry so another field all to ourselves was very welcome.   

The next morning we set off again – the load a bit lighter but more work required.   It was another very long day, but on this occasion brightened by the wee incident – seeing Kat scratting around in the squat and drop position while I ‘accidentally’ stood on my reins was highly amusing.  

In the afternoon Tills and I recognised where we were and despite our tiredness we picked up pace and headed homewards with renewed vigour.  

I would sum up my first real trail as follows – the world beyond my field isn’t all that scary after all and Hula Hoops are just so yesterday – it’s all about the Custard Creams.  In-fact, Tills and I have agreed to only ever go on Custard Cream trails in future – anything else and we’re calling a strike.    

GMFN

F x

Hula Hoops with Tilly of the 3 Wees

Our training session the other day was so long that I had to go to the toilet 10 times and Tills was renamed Tilly of the 3 Wees…

The effort of being out all day was nothing compared to the serious deprivation of grassy munchies we had to tolerate. Tills and I had to pull all the tricks from the ‘How to Defeat your Human’ Manual for Horses to get the measly tufts we were able to snatch at rest times and on route.

Pretending to scratch our noses on the ground and then surreptitiously diving for the grass verge works well. However, we achieved the most success with the ‘Show and Swoop’ technique.

This little ruse involves leading our humans to a particular lovely view and, while they are oohing over the landscape, we then swoop down for some juicy munchies. On this particular day we were very high up so there were plenty of views to be enjoyed.

Tills demonstrating the Show and Swoop. I have no idea what Sara is doing.

Both these tricks work tolerably well, but not enough to keep us as full as we’re accustomed for 8 hours. Kat said we’ve been spoilt having endless grassy munchies in our field and wild horses would eat on the move most days.

Despite these hardships I discovered that if I helped Kat open the gates I got rewarded every time with a hay cob treat. She also shared some of her human hay cobs with me; she called them Hula Hoops.

Twice on this arduous day the sun was turned off and everything went black – all except a circle of light in front of us that kept getting bigger. Our feet on the ground were very loud and Tills got upset because her eyesight isn’t the best, even in daylight. Eventually the sun was turned back on but the same thing happened on the way home in the exact same place – very odd.

When we got home I was very tired and I can’t even find the words to express how hungry I was… That said, Kat was very pleased with me and said I was now a true trail riding horse as I’d done 20 miles on the trail with half of it in torrential rain.

Next week Tills and I are being loaded onto the sweat box on wheels and taken away from our home to ride 3 days just like this one. I don’t know whether I’m scared, excited or appalled, but I do know I’d like some more of these Hula Hoop human hay cobs. Fetlocks crossed Kat packs enough for both of us.

GMFN

F x

Hench Wench Thunder Feet and the Puff Puff

Grassy munchies all. I have news – a new name and a new problem.

I am now known as Hench Wench Thunder Feet and, my human has been harassing me with an alarming ‘puff puff’ sound.

My new badge of honour is quite a mouthful so I’m happy to stick with Frankie still. Or, just Thunder for short.

My interpretation of this is ‘She Who is Fast and Strong’. Kat said it was because I was ‘built like a tank’ and ‘the ground shakes as my hooves pound over it at full pelt’.

Good job I can happily disregard my human.

I’ve also had more of the horrible hay-fever which has turned into Asthma, meaning I can’t breath as well as I should be able to. Kat said I need to start using something call an inhaler.

I am deeply suspicious of the ‘puff puff’ sound the inhaler makes and there is little this side of The Bridge that could convince me otherwise.

Kat even tried to tempt me with the Hobnob – literally my favourite thing about humans – but it wasn’t enough to entice me. In-fact, it was almost enough to put me off these crunchy oaty delights for life – an unforgivable travesty that would have been.

The ‘puff puff’ must be important as Kat has sought a higher authority – the man that can talk horse. Why she thinks I will ever be talked into liking something that sounds like a snake going in for the killer bite is way beyond my extreme hairiness.

They think I don’t know, but once I’m able to tolerate the ‘puff puff’ near me, they are going to ‘puff puff’ it up my nose – 5 times a day. I’ve never heard such nonsense. Game on humans.

While Kat is plotting and scheming with the ‘puff puff’, I’ve got the same medicine to take in my grassy munchies feed instead. Apparently, it’s something called Steroids, which is working wonders.

I think it’s probably what’s earned me my new title – my turn of hoof to full velocity the other day nearly sent Kat catapulting over my head.

That’s definitely something to keep up my hairy feathers if she continues with the ‘puff puff’ abuse. Tit for tat and all.

Until next time.

GMFN

F x (HWTF)

Love is in the field

I’m just bursting with love and life at the moment.

My hay fever has gone so I can breathe easily again and I love my new field almost as much as my new friend, Jack.

IMG_2345

I’ve never loved like this before.  It’s literally knocked me off my hooves, giving me a lust for life – and Jack – I didn’t think possible.

Unfortunately, I think my all consuming zest and zeal was partly responsible for the little incident that blotted my fetlock with Kat today on our training session.

I was skipping along the road in high spirits when a herd of cows decided to chase us in the adjacent field.

So I did what any high spirited, loved up, hairy Cob would do and took off – at high speed – using all my new found oomph to flee the killer cows and save us all.

Once I realised Tills was calmly walking some distance behind me (she may have also been tutting, but I can’t be sure) and Kat seemed more concerned about my speed than the cows, I stopped running – and started feeling slightly foolish.

Thankfully, a strange incident later on with Tills took the focus off my folly.

In the woods Tills decided to jump over a pool of water. Quite sensibly as we couldn’t see the bottom so naturally assumed it was 20 horses deep and full of hungry crocodiles.

Tills cleared the pool fabulously taking herself and her human, Sara, safely to the other side. I was so impressed!

However, at this point Sara did something very strange.  Instead of congratulating Tills on her fabulous leap of courage, she flopped off Tilly’s back and had a lie down on the ground for a few minutes.  Maybe she was tired after all the antics?

Tills did the sensible thing and took the opportunity for some grassy munchies while Sara had her little rest.

Once we were back at the field I told Jack all about it. He gave me a peck on my muzzle, told me not to worry and said I was very brave trying to save everyone from the killer cows.

We both agreed that humans can be very strange before we settled down to the serious business of grassy munchies.  Together.

IMG_2383

I wish Kat would remove my hay fever net so I could get some proper nose on nose action with Jack.

GMFN

F x

 

 

 

From Tree to Bush

In the holy name of all that’s green, I’ve only gone and moved fields. Again.

I asked Kat why I was being moved from tree to bush yet again. She said I was enjoying the ‘eat all your can buffet’ too much at my old field and was getting too big.  Again.

Kat is always forgetting I’m 50% hair and actually trim as a pin underneath.

On the plus side, I’m now sharing a field with Aunty Tills and her best friend Jack – a very fetching fella who has a bit of the Murray magic going on, except in ginger.

IMG_2345

Meeting Jack!

best-5620a

The Magical Murray

I never met Murray, but he can still get us females all of a dither, even from beyond the bridge.

Cassie is also in my new herd. She used to be my previous herd leader at the ‘eat all you can buffet’ field and it’s clear she holds the same status here as well.

I am following all the basic new herd member rules, but she won’t let me in – or anywhere near Jack. I think she might feel threatened by my extreme hairiness.

 

I mean, Cassie is looking good for the more mature lady, but she doesn’t have the kind of voluminous lustrous locks that I happily possess. 

IMG_2353

Cassie

It’s going to be a tough group to crack all round to be honest – they are very tight. Tills and Jack practically share the same grassy munchies and threesome grooming sessions are common.

IMG_2355a

Tills and Jack sharing grassy munchies

I am determined to be accepted though as my safety and sanity depends on it.

I cannot be truly safe from predators left out in the cold on my own and I cannot be truly sane without any friends to share mutual grooming with and general grumblings about our humans.

Plus, I kind of like the idea of a threesome with Jack.

Until next time.

GMFN

F x